NRDC Study Cites Huge Risks of Arctic Drilling, Supports Call for Permanent Ban

WASHINGTON – An oil well blowout in the U.S. Arctic Ocean would spread crude oil for hundreds of miles, and devastate Alaska’s shorelines, as well as marine life, according to a study released by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The following is a statement by Niel Lawrence, director of the Alaska program at NRDC:

“The stakes are just too high for the Arctic and its wildlife.  This study adds to the extensive evidence of unacceptable risks associated with Arctic drilling.  President Obama should permanently ban drilling in these pristine waters.”

Oil would reach the shoreline under all projected scenarios in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, where the U.S. government sold oil and gas leases.

Special areas at risk include: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wrangel Island, along with two places President Obama has previously designated for protection, Barrow Canyon and Hanna Shoal. Collectively, these places provide important habitat for whales, ice seals, polar bears, seabirds and walruses.

NRDC’s modeling study analyzed the impact of three potential crude oil releases:  a spill in August that was capped within 10 days, a spill in July capped within 33 days, and a spill in October that was not capped.  The study relied on conservative estimates of cleanup  potential.

The study is available here.

A fact-sheet is available here.

For more, please see this blog by NRDC’s Niel Lawrence.



The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Related Press Releases